Shaping Up: Tapping into the health-conscious consumer

Superfoods were the superheroes of the early 2000’s and since then the health food market has exploded, exposing consumers to juice bars, the introduction of protein snacks in cafés and the
growth of healthy fast-food retailers such as Leon.

Recent KAM Media research indicates that consumers are now looking for pubs, bars and restaurants to cater for this evolving trend with 43% wanting to see lower sugar options, 41% wanting lower salt content and 1 in 5 would like to see meals fortified with protein and fibre. With every consumer offering a very different opinion on what they perceive as healthy, how can operators start to break into this market? We spoke to chefs, nutritionists and operators in the industry to learn more about the many ways healthier dishes can be introduced to menus across each sector of the foodservice marketplace.

Ian Human, Head of Culinary, Ways to be Well

At Ways to Be Well, our plant-forward and nutritionally designed menus are packed with fresh, seasonal produce that promote gut, brain and heart health and are available at participating restaurants across the country. We focus on a variety of different plant-based food sources such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds (chia, camelina, sunflower, pumpkin) to create dishes such as spicy bean shakshuka that are good sources of protein, fibre and full of good fats. We are also experimenting with fermented foods such as sourdough bread and kimchi that can help support a healthy gut and adds unique flavours and textures such as our Smoked Mackerel with Kimchi and Apple sandwich.

Zoe Davies, Nutritionist, Action on Salt 

Many consumers are now looking for options that are lower in fat, salt, sugar and calories. With the options currently available this is very hard, so making our food environment a healthier, more accessible one is a much-needed priority. Simple measures can include: providing clear nutrition labelling on menus, promoting lower salt, fat and sugar food options as the default option, including more whole-grains and vegetables into dishes, adding less salt when cooking or using lower/reduced salt ingredients and opting for less indulgent side dishes, sugary drinks and desserts
on menus will play a vital role in shaping the food choices we make.

Gareth O’Hara, Healthcare Chef Ambassador, Philadelphia Professional

Delicious, seasonal soups are a fantastic option for chefs working in the healthcare sector. Warm and comforting they’re a great way of packing in extra nutrients and also work well for patients who struggle with swallowing.

Honey Roast Squash, Philly and Red Pepper Soup has a lovely creamy taste and importantly, can be easily adapted to suit residents’ needs. Try leaving on carrot skins for even more essential dietary fibre, swapping in seasonal veg to improve cost savings and to enhance fortification simply add more Philly into the mix.

Dr Aamer Khan, Author and Founder, Harley Street Skin

When it comes to meal staples, we want to make sure our fish, poultry and meat come from healthy livestock sources. So think organic and grass-fed for your meat and fish sourced from the sea and natural rivers. Customers will know the difference because of how much tastier fresh produce is. But what to serve alongside the fish, poultry and meat? In-season vegetables are a must as they haven’t been in cold-storage for lengthy amounts of time, dishes such as creamy sweet potato and parsnip mash or vegetable patties would make great healthy options.

Magnesium is essential for the absorption of calcium, as well as for keeping blood pressure in check, and both are crucial to the body’s function. Foods rich in both are sardines, white beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, greens such as cabbage, kale and broccoli, almonds and goat cheese

Juggy Sidhu, Nutritionist

Building in gut friendly foods doesn’t need to be too difficult and with a little strategic thinking you can add a vegan friendly dish to your menu that packs a powerful protein punch! In practical terms, adding kimchi to your repertoire using cabbage, radishes, ginger, garlic and spices will give you a functional addition to most dishes, either to the side of a dish, over the top of a grain bowl, to flavour or braise meats or even to be used as the base to a pasta sauce!

You can also try adding tempeh to your menu as a great meat substitute. Tempeh covers a few bases, it is a high protein vegan alternative to meat and is derived from probiotic filled soy, which means you are not only catering to the vegan market but the health conscious too!

Simon Solway, UK and IRE OOH and Retail Country Manager, Gold&Green® Foods

Switching from meat to a plant-based alternative is an easy way to upgrade your menus and boost nutrition. The plant-based market was already in growth but following the events of 2020 demand went into overdrive – pushing the market to grow a further +243%! Consumers are increasingly aware of what’s in their food so Pulled Oats® by Gold&Green Foods has made this easy for operators, containing only five ingredients which are 100% natural, no soy and offer more protein than beef and chicken. Start by flipping meaty favourites such as Bolognese or Chilli Con Carne on your menu with Pulled Oats® and wow your diners.

James Birch, Business Development Chef, Unilever Foodsolutions

Eating Healthy is not just about taste. Our choice of what we cook as chefs for our customers can have a really positive impact beyond the plate. Knorr Future 50 ingredients are a great starting point.

This list of Future 50 Foods, consists of various varieties of vegetables, grains, cereals, seeds, legumes and nuts from across the globe, that contribute to more resilient and sustainable food systems with greater biodiversity and less waste.

Chefs can be a key part of this and really help to drive this action. Focusing on creating those super healthy dishes, such as a delicious Fresh Corn Polenta with Soy, Parsley Root, Walnut and Kale Pesto, which are healthy for the planet and taste fantastic too.

Other menu ideas perfect for your summer menu are found in the KNORR future 50 foods cookbook. Such as tofu and black bean tacos, quinotto (risotto made with quinoa, beetroot tops), orange tomato gazpacho, Bombay sweet potato rolls with red cabbage koshimbar.

Please see for lots more information.